New York, NY – June 20, 2023 – Hakata, the award-winning, premium whisky, distilled and matured in Fukuoka, Japan and hailing from the Hikari Distillery (est. 1912) today announces its U.S. debut.
Distilled from 100% barley and aged in Sherry casks, the range includes Hakata 10-Year-Old Whisky, Hakata 12-Year-Old Whisky, Hakata 16-Year-Old Whisky and the showstopping Hakata 18-Year-Old Whisky.
Imported by ImpEx Beverages, the Hakata Whiskies showcase the distilling prowess of Japanese producers.
Highly sought-after, Hakata Whisky is distilled and matured in Japan using 100% barley, a fraction of which is fermented with Koji – providing healthy enzymes for fermentation, and thus delivering a savory, unmistakable, Umami-enhanced patina. A distinguishing technique employed by the brand, this type of distillation is as revered as it is ancient and has been leveraged by some of the finest distillers in Japan for nearly 500 years. Known as the source of Umami, Koji is also used for production of Soy Sauce, Sake, and Miso.
Created by the imaginative team at the storied Hikari Distillery, Hakata Whiskies are aged in Sherry casks in both traditional and open-air warehouses, allowing the aged spirits to benefit from the unique environmental elements in the Fukuoka region. Exposure to a humid summertime climate and cold winter temperatures manifest whiskies that are bold and evolved, characterized by decadent, Sherry-dominant flavor profiles. These distillation and production techniques combined render a valiant, almost classical, whisky flavor profile while retaining a coveted freshness that is truly rare.
Located on the Southern island of Kyushu, the historic Hikari distillery has been producing spirits since 1912. The careful craftsmanship and attention to detail in crafting Hakata’s whiskies have received worldwide acclaim, including recognition recently from the highly respected Whisky Advocate, who recently awarded outstanding scores to every product in the current Hakata lineup:
Hakata 10-Year-Old Whisky (RRP: $80), awarded 93 points, demonstrates the full flavor and authentic, spirit-forward character that the brand is known for. Oaky and earthy, on the nose it also presents notes of lemon meringue and strawberry preserves. Ripe with rich Sherry, walnuts, and sweet raspberries on the palate and culminates with notes of vanilla, Oak, Sherry, raisin, and orange peel.
Awarded 95 points, Hakata 12-Year-Old Whisky (RRP: $100) is truly Oak and umami defined – an enchanting, balanced whisky which, on the nose, delivers notes of champagne, dried plums, and sweet dates. On the palate, stewed fruit, caramelized orchard fruit, apple cider , and Sherry are demonstrated, finishing with a sweet and slightly citrus salute. The drawn-out finish and minerality makes this liquid gem sweet, tangy, and enlightened by umami – a measured triumph of harmony and spice.
The refined Hakata 16-Year-Old Whisky (RRP: $150) was honored with an outstanding 96 points by Whisky Advocate – a score achieved by only seven other whiskies in the past decade. It is the embodiment of a well-rounded whisky. Characterized by notes of caramelized coconut, white peach, powdered sugar, and a touch of char; it’s decorated with a profound scent of Oak on the nose. On the palate, it delivers a hint of creamy Creme Brûlée, unripe pear, roasted almonds, and white raisins.
Hakata 18-Year-Old Whisky (RRP: $190) – awarded 94 points – is some of the most prized liquid hailing from the Japanese distillery. Glorious and decadent, it showcases notes of cola, dark cherry, roses, and the profound influence of Sherry on the nose. On the palate, it exhibits smooth waves of savory umami, graham cracker, dates, and a tart cherry. It concludes with an Oak finish, complemented by notes of fresh berries and smooth vanilla.
“The domestic market for World whiskies is unprecedented right now, and we are excited to bring Hakata’s otherworldly flavor profile to an American audience – especially as we know Umami is finally having its moment in the sun. Whisky from Japan is a formidable and well-respected category in the overall whisky scene, and our hope is that Hakata finds its rightful seat at the table,” said Chris Uhde, Vice President, ImpEx Beverages.
With their inimitable flavor profile, Hakata Whiskies appeal to the most discerning whisky drinker while maintaining an approachability that is dually engaging for the casual Bourbon enthusiast. The complex flavors and striking textures showcase a luxurious spirit with intense aroma – a splendid achievement in balance, character, and mystique. The flavor profile of Hakata positively shines when served with food, thanks to the savory umami essence which illuminates the flavors of any dish. Best served neat in pours of 1 oz. or less, Hakata is a whisky to be sipped and savored.